The Fairest Week In Review: 1/31

I’ve impulse-bought races on occasion before, but this is a new one: last weekend I impulse-entered a marathon.

The Rock ‘n Roll Marathon DC, to be exact, a race I had previously rejected due to March’s unpredictable weather patterns. But since I survived the frigid temperatures of the WDW Marathon, I’m now a little more willing to take my chances.

The clincher, though, was getting a Groupon offering a marathon bib for a mere $100 AND a further discount code that brought the cost down to $80. For a marathon. runDisney this is not.

Which of course means that it might not be as fun as runDisney. Or Marine Corps, for that matter. I’m a little nervous. But I want another shot at a PR, so I’m taking the chance. I could’ve gone for the half, but go big or go home, right?

Now is probably a good time to see if my training can sustain a marathon in two months.

Sunday | rest

Monday | ran 11.37 miles on the treadmill in 1:55

Tuesday | walked 2.08 miles outside; 70 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 11.15 miles outside 2:00
Working on this whole “running outside” thing. When the circumstances are right, mind. This particular day the weather was comparatively mild and I was going into work late; it’s too dark for my comfort to run very early right now.

Thursday | walked 2.12 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 5.35 miles in 60 minutes
Also I saw John Cleese speak. You know. Whatevs.

Although you did start it. You invaded Poland.

Saturday | rest

I can work with this. I’m gonna top out with a 17 miler because I like to live dangerously, but I think I can make it happen.


Just Me & My Running Shoes tests different brands of kinesio tape.
Elbowglitter keeps motivation up in the off-season.
Sparkly Runner man an impromptu aid station the “Unofficial” WDW Half Marathon.
More Festival of the Arts food both reviews come courtesy of easy WDW.
Main Street Gazette enjoys the Brown Derby Lounge margarita flight. I’ve had this and I loved it!
The Disney Hipsters consider Tiffins from a vegetarian angle.
Disney In Your Day attends Club Villain.
Disney Nerds went to Aulani and didn’t take me and that’s just RUDE.
Rolling with the Magic eats at Disney Springs’ Morimoto Asia.

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Plays The Post-Marathon Blame Game

I run the Marine Corps Marathon for time. I run the WDW Marathon for fun. So when I blew MCM and trounced WDW (but no PR because of character stops), I wanted to break down why. Prepare for many Thoughts On The Matter.

NOT REMOTELY MY FAULT: The weather. One can reasonably expect that the Marine Corps Marathon, on October 30, would be cool. The WDW Marathon, in the unpredictable land of Orlando winter, is something of a crap shoot, but one wouldn’t necessary lay down money on real cold. And yet MCM enjoyed a high of 78 degrees and, starting at 7:55am, that meant that the sun was beating down for the hardest, end miles. By contrast, WDW, starting at 5:30am, was coooooold all the way through. I’m not a cold weather runner but even I have to admit that cooler temperatures make for faster speeds. I’m just lucky my lungs didn’t seize up.
Which leads us to…

MOSTLY NOT MY FAULT: Hydration. I say mostly because I suppose I could’ve drunk even more water/Powerade in the days leading up to the race. Other than that, though, this was an extension of the weather. I took one cup of either water and Powerade at every stop during WDW and felt totally fine. During MCM, I took a water AND Powerade at every stop (and sometimes more toward the end) and felt like I was dying. At one point I took a beer shot from a spectator because ANYTHING liquid sounded amazing at the time. It was sunny and I was hot and I just couldn’t suck it down as fast as I was perspiring it out.

MOSTLY MY FAULT: Fueling. The heat also messed with my appetite during MCM. I refused all fuel during the race (although Dunkin’ wasn’t handing out munchkin donuts – what’s with that?). I distinctly remember running past Clif Shots and thinking, ugh, no, not hungry. MISTAKE.

During WDW I took all both Clif Shots offered to me, because mocha is AWESOME and whether or not you think you’re hungry, self, you need the fuel, okay? You’re running 26 MILES. Take the damn Clif Shot.

PRETTY MUCH MY FAULT: Pushing too hard. I was soooo determined to run all of MCM outside of water stops. I knew I could do it because my only real downfall in past attempts was the 14th Street bridge. So I pushed myself to run over that stupid, incline-y bridge, and I was so proud when I did it… only to collapse in on myself a mile or two later. I have a feeling this contributed to the pain I experienced.

By contrast, during WDW I took bathroom breaks and character stops and felt a-okay the whole race, only experiencing pain after when I tried to run for a bus (do NOT do that right after a marathon). I’m not ready to go full-Galloway (totally respect it but intervals interrupt my ability to zone out). But maybe, just MAYBE, allowing myself a break now and again isn’t such a terrible thing.

Incidentally, I don’t regret any of those character stops, even if they did destroy my PR. I think that’s kinda what runDisney’s ABOUT, don’t you?

POSSIBLY MY FAULT BUT I’M NOT SURE: Over-training. I ran a 20-miler before MCM, and then a 15-miler about 3 weeks before. Is that too much? I know this is personal and I’m really not sure. All I did before WDW was a lone 15-miler, also about 3 weeks out but that was the longest run during that training cycle. I suppose you could argue that my muscles retained a lot of the strength from MCM a couple months earlier, and I couldn’t get away with such a light training cycle otherwise. But I do wonder…

NOT REMOTELY MY FAULT: My GPS watch. My stupid GPS watch died during MCM. I only had a few miles left but without the feedback I felt lost, which didn’t help mentally (and I firmly believe something like 50% of a marathon is mental). For some reason my text message alerts didn’t work either, so I couldn’t even extrapolate from pad times.

Luckily, Pat got me a brand new, totally amazing GPS watch for Christmas that I used during WDW and it kicked all known forms of ass and some that haven’t even been invented yet. I didn’t even use half its battery. I looooove it.

Do I wish I could switch my MCM and WDW performances around? Kinda, yeah; sure woulda been nice to get that PR. But hey, you live and you learn. Or so I hear. I’ll try again next time. Speaking of which, anyone run the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon DC? What’s that like? I got a Groupon discount and couldn’t resist… Lucky number seven?

What do you think of my breakdown? Have you experienced any similar issues? What’s the best marathon training advice you ever received?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/09

It’s trip report time again! I love trip reports! I’m recapping my January 2017 trip to WDW for the marathon. You can see all the posts in this report here. Onward!

As Jean Valjean once said: one day more…

I started my last WDW day in the usual way: I showered, knocked out some last minute packing, checked my bag, and hopped a bus to the Magic Kingdom.

I thought I’d be catching one of the last showings of the train station welcome show, but as it turned out that ship had already sailed, replaced by the new welcome show on the castle forecourt stage. It was a perfectly fine replacement, featuring many of the same characters, but I missed the trolley show singers and their misappropriation of “Good Morning.” (Is it great to stay up late? What exactly are we doing here, then?)

After rope drop I headed straight to Space Mountain and got in a ride in the back on the left side track. Upon emerging, I considered a ride on the TTA, but it was temporarily down.

Instead I headed over to the Haunted Mansion, where I experienced what the ride would be like if you replaced the spirits with screaming girls. Even my hitchhiking ghost informed me he was eager to accompany me back to Maryland. (Anyone else think the random Magic Band info they pull is kinda weird sometimes?)

By that point my coveted Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FP slot had opened, so I headed over to New Fantasyland and… the ride was down. So instead I rode small world while considering my next move.

I concluded that the best course of action therefore was obviously to go get some coffee. I headed over to the Main Street Bakery for some Starbucks, but even at 10:30am the line was bonkers. I got in it for like 30 seconds before bailing in favor of a less fancy but more easily accessible coffee from the Cheshire Cafe.

I brought my coffee back to the Mine Train area and chilled by one of the turret things as I sipped. I wound up finishing the coffee before anything happened in the mines; I conceded temporary defeat and headed back for a second ride on Space Mountain courtesy of my third FP.

After that MDE was reporting still no Mine Train, so I knocked out a bucket list item and caught the Hall of Presidents one more time before it gets… weird. I mean, regardless of anything political, it’s gotta be weird. Trump does not speak eloquently – he carries a speech with a mixture of bluster and charisma. That’s not likely to carry in the form of an audio-animatronic, if you ask me. But whatever. We’ll see what happens.

It does boggle my mind that they’re gonna call Morgan Freeman and ask him to record himself saying “Donald Trump.” You know he won’t want to do it.

Final question: how long does the list of presidents have to get before it just takes too damn long to say them all in a theme park attraction?

The HoP is perfectly timed to end just before The Muppets Present Great Moments In History, so I caught the show, the Declaration version. It was better than I remember – JJ’s banners crack me up.

I wanted to see the Paul Revere show too, so I resolved to stay close by. I wandered through the Christmas shop and Memento Mori to kill the time, then circled back. I didn’t like the Revere version as much, maybe because the lack of JJ means a lack of bridge between the audience and the Muppets? Admittedly I was half paying attention to MDE at the time. I’ll have to give it another shot.

Thankfully the Mine Train was back up, and I slipped into the FP line. I wound up riding with a very nice lady who was pondering running the WDW Marathon next year. Naturally I talked her right the hell into it. MORE CULTISTS!

I knocked out my final FP on Splash Mountain before heading out. I peeked in the Harmony Barbershop to see if they were taking walkups but they looked pretty slammed; I decided to save that one for next time.

While all this was going down I was polling Twitter: should I spend my final afternoon in Epcot or DAK? A lot of my favorite stuff is in DAK, but I wanted a brioche ice cream sandwich from France. And so I hatched a ridiculous, ridiculous plan.

Step one: I picked up the monorail from MK to the TTA to Epcot, where I powerwalked to France and bought the brioche ice cream sandwich. More on this in its own post because I feel it warranted.

Step two: While I ate, I exited through the International Gateway, walked to the Boardwalk bus station, and picked up a bus to DAK there. WDW power user, I tell you!

Now for how to spend my final hours. I pondered trying to make another showing of Festival of the Lion King, but that would be cutting my Magical Express time pretty close.

Instead I headed over to Harambe, grabbed a Safari Amber, and watched Burudika bring it home as they always do. Safari Amber? Eh. Boring. Would not get ahead. Burudika? AWESOME. AGAIN, PLEASE.

I had picked up a Dinosaur FP to close things out, but I had one more trick up my sleeve on the way over: the Everest single rider line. Not only was it open, it was basically nonexistent. And not only did I have time to ride, I had time to ride twice. And the little girl in front of me the second time did NOT vomit on me, as the British dude next to me threatened.

And then I finished the trip how it began: with a ride on Dinosaur.

On the way out I grabbed a triceratops stuffed animal for Pat’s neice, then began to sad trek over to the bus. A Pop bus was of course waiting for me. I did a little shopping for coworkers and such in the gift shop but was sad to see the Minnie bow sunglasses I had been pondering were not available there. Come to think of it, I also forgot to grab that Toad ballcap in the Magic Kingdom. One or both of those may have to come home with me in April…

I’m rambling to delay the inevitable: I change in the bathroom, the bus takes me back to the airport, this post ends. Except maybe to say that I am apparently better at navigating airports drunk than sober. Don’t ask.

Okay! So! That’s it! 🙁 But I still have a couple related posts to come! 🙂 I’m going back in April! 😀

As always, thank you to any and all who read this trip report! I love writing them to relive my trip. Do let me know if you have any suggestions on my delivery – I might get a trifle too detailed sometimes…

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 1/25

Back to it, because the Star Wars – Dark Side Half Marathon ain’t gonna train for itself.

Sunday | rest

Monday | ran 10.12 miles outside in 1:50
Riding the high of my chilly but successful marathon, I made the mistake of thinking that maybe my lungs had adapted to the cold. I went for an outdoor run with temperatures in the low 40s, and it went… okay. My lungs weren’t thrilled, but they also weren’t demanding I stop this nonsense immediately. I got the run done. But I’ve been more comfortable in my life.

Tuesday | walked 2.14 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 8.15 miles on the treadmill in 1:25

Thursday | walked 2.18 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 6.52 miles on the treadmill in 70 minutes

Saturday | rest

Speaking of the Dark Side, I have thrown myself into trip planning mode (yes I realize it’s three months away SHUT UP). I’ve assembled my spreadsheet and am slowing filling in details like restaurant reservations and FastPass plans. California Grill, here we come! River of Light, here we… come? Maybe? RoL, wyd?


Elbowglitter guides us through choosing a running/tri coach.
The Runner’s Guide to WDW walks us through runDisney transportation.
Half Crazy Mama pays a visit to the Magic Kingdom’s Harmony Barber Shop. Me next!
Living A Disney Life knows that the wilderness must be explored. Cacaw! Cacaw! RAR!
easyWDW continues to try Epcot’s Festival of the Arts food offerings so that you don’t have to.
The Disney Tourist Blog shows off the next generation (there are four lights) of Magic Bands,
Disney In Your Day enjoys brunch at Narcoossee’s.
The Disney Hipsters admire DAK’s Serka Zong because duh.

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/08

It’s trip report time again! I love trip reports! I’m recapping my January 2017 trip to WDW for the marathon. You can see all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Post-marathon, I snagged a bus immediately and made it back to my room around 11:30am. This would’ve thrilled last year me, who needed to shower and book, but as I wasn’t leaving until the next day I instead luxuriated in the gift of time. First I showered, then I ate a couple snacks and hung around on the computer. Indeed, I was so comfortable (and, let’s face it, tired and a bit stiff), that only a Frozen Ever After FastPass could drag me out of bed.

Guess what I had?

So I threw off the covers, put on some clothes, scrounged up a bus, and made it to Epcot in plenty of time – only to find the Frozen was down. Blast.

I pondered grabbing some food at Kringla but, as is often the case after a very long run, I wasn’t particularly hungry yet. Instead I consulted MDE and saw that the Three Caballeros had no wait, so I headed over to Mexico for a Gran Fiesta Tour. The Three Caballeros is actually a great, if somewhat disjointed movie. Check it out.

By the time I exited Frozen was operational; I backtracked to Norway and hopped into the FP line. I wound up with the front row all to myself and it was awesome. As I said the first time I rode: Frozen is whatever, RIP Maelstrom, but damn, Imagineers, well done on this one. The “Let It Go” room FTW!

I don’t full understand what this photo op is for.

Temperatures had rocketed to – GASP! – the low 50s, so my next act was to scuttle over to the China gift shop to warm up and check my FastPass options. They were limited, but I was able to push back my Living with the Land FP time.

Next I power walked over to France for one of my to-do list items: watch the France movie. It is – like much of, well, Epcot – pretty dated, but the soundtrack is amazing. I will never tire of Saint-Saens’ organ symphony.

By then my Living with the Land FP was open, so I headed over there and slid into another front row seat to myself. Certainly this isn’t the most thrilling ride in WDW but I’m rather fond of it for its gentle pace, relaxing ambiance, and the occasional oddball tour of worker wandering through the gardens. Interesting to note: the gator pen is now gone entirely, replaced with a catfish breeding area.

While still on the ride I secured a Spaceship Earth FP, which is not the greatest get but turned out to be a Godsend as the area under SE was a veritable WIND TUNNEL. The less time spent under it the better. I hid in a nearby gift shop until my time opened up because JESUS, FLORIDA, GET IT TOGETHER.

Once I was on the ride, though, I was back in my happy place. There’s nothing like kicking up your feet in your empty car and eating gummy bears while Dame Judi Dench explains communication.

I toyed with accepting my fate and getting in the standby line for Soarin,’ but that was never gonna jive with the fireworks at MK. I chose to prioritize the latter and picked up a monorail to the TTA and then MK.

Do you ever feel like a WDW Super User? I was in a monorail car with some people who were confused about the monorail loops; I was able to direct them to the resort loop they really wanted. I felt very pleased with myself. At least I’m good at something.

There was about an hour to kill before Wishes, and under normal circumstances I would’ve used that time to, oh, find a good FastPass, or take in something quick and line-less like the steam train or the TTA. But I was starting to get COLD!!! again, and my plans called for a lot of time wandering the gift shops.

They were, as you might expect, packed with people who were also cold + doing the traditional last minute shopping thing, but as I was in no hurry it didn’t bother me overmuch. I walked through both sides of Main Street before ducking into Starbucks and getting myself a large-ish cup of tea to sustain me through the necessarily outdoors fireworks. Unfortunately I missed the new Once Upon a Time projection show, but I was just too cold. Next time.

I took my tea down to the end of Main Street near the train station and took in Wishes, finishing my nice warm beverage just as the last firework exploded. I did an about face and beat it out the park ahead of the masses. I had briefly entertained the idea of bolting back to Epcot for Extra Magic Hours, but again, it was just too cold.

Pat says this photo is terrifying.

I realized too late that what I SHOULD have done was see if I could weasel my way into the bar area of the California Grill. They probably would’ve let a single person in even at a later hour. But then who knows how good my view would’ve been and how much money would I have dropped on drinks?

Anyway. One of those fancy double buses carried me back to Pop, where I snagged a surprisingly good turkey sandwich in the food court. I took it back to my room and ate it while watching TV, one of the simple pleasures of hotel life. And then I fell asleep, because marathons take a lot out of you.

Next up: one more day in WDW.

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 1/19

I love being a runner. Sometimes I even love running. I love feeling that I’m keeping my body in good shape. I love races. I love feeling accomplished.

But I gotta say, that week after a marathon where I don’t have to run at all is pretty awesome. So much time! So much sleep!

Segue into this, oh, ever so impressive workout log from last week:

Sunday | The WDW Marathon, plus my phone thinks I walked another 12ish miles around WDW/to-from start/etc.
Soooo happy.

Monday | walked around WDW; according to my phone, 11.7 miles

Tuesday | 60 minute ballet class
Actually the class was a bit longer than that but I didn’t do any of the jumping. Peroneal tendons still sore and all.

Wednesday | walked 3.03 miles outside in 50 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.01 miles outside in 35 minutes; 60 minute ballet class
Ditto on that no-jumping thing. Long live Injury-Free Winter!

Friday | rest

Saturday | rest

And then we go right back into running again this week. It was nice while it lasted.

I am also happy to report that as of last week, Pat is officially coming with me to WDW in April for the Dark Side Half! Yay!!! More on this later, of course (plus more resort reservation shenanigans), but I wanted to share my excitement because YAY!!!

Anyway. Roundup:

The Runner’s Guide to WDW has advice for runDisney spectators.
Disney In Your Day ran the WDW Marathon too!
WDW for Grownups lists the WDW restaurants you MUST hit in 2017.
easyWDW continues the yeoman’s work of reviewing ALL festival food items.
EPBOT points out that said festival is way into Figment. Now I’m extra bummed I’m missing it!
The Disney Tourist Blog is deeply suspicious of Disneyland’s new FastPass offering. ME TOO.
The Main Street Gazette wants WDW’s night parade back. ME TOO.
An Open Suitcase takes a peek inside the elusive Cinderella Castle Suite.

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The 2017 WDW Marathon

It’s trip report time again! I love trip reports! I’m recapping my January 2017 trip to WDW for the marathon. You can see all the posts in this report here. Onward!


I hear tell of a mythical WDW Marathon some years ago where it was so cold the course was marked by snow and sleet. This is the only possible way the weather for this year’s marathon could’ve been weirder.

The forecast called for a temperature just under 40 degrees at the start of the race; I had known that coming in. What caught me – and many others – by surprise was the addition of wind gusts and an accompanying chill that brought the real-feel down to about 30. The high for the day was about 55, but we wouldn’t expect to see that until well after I finished.

I woke up just before 3am the morning of the race with an unusual task for runDisney races: begin piling on the layers. First my KT Tape, then long running tights. Four layers on top: long sleeve tech tee (the one from the race; I hadn’t expected to need one), then a running tank, then my big Target running hoodie with the hood you can pull up over your nose, and then my throwaway fleece. I rather wondered if I’d be able to throw it away.

Once ready, I stepped out the door and… I was okay. Not great, mind you, but okay. But when I boarded a bus I walked all the way to the back, because who’s in a hurry to get off the bus?

The starting area was similarly tolerable but not pleasant. There was a merch tent open, and having been driven out of the expo by crowds the day before, I decided to check it out with the additional bonus of warming up a little. Well, I was not the only person to think of that – in fact, the vast majority of people didn’t seem too interested in the products, only the extra protection the tent provided.

It was difficult to navigate, and when I found myself wedged between people in an effort to see a jacket, I figured, why fight it? Which is how I came to spend about ten minutes in the tent, just hanging out. Eventually, though, my guilt over taking up space got to me, plus I of course had stuff to do, corrals to make, and I shouldered my way back into the cold.

One porta potty stop later (pro tip: do NOT wait to apply your skin lubricant in the porta potty when it’s cold) and I began the long walk to my corral. A lone advantage of the chill was that, despite it being only half an hour before race start, a comparative few had made it to the corrals yet. I was able to walk up toward the front without difficulty.

And as I stood there, hopping from one foot to the other, my gigantic hood drawn up over my mouth and nose like an Inuit, a startling thought occurred to me: was I not going to enjoy this race? This, my favorite race? Was it simply too cold for me to enjoy happiness?

Hello and welcome to the WDW Marathon.
I am your host, Nanook of the North.

Only one way to find out. The race started, the corrals moved forward, and when it was my turn I ran.

The first bit of good news started with my lungs. They have a habit of seizing up at even the suggestion of cold; see the Tinker Bell Half 2014 for proof. Despite the frigid conditions… nothing! My breathing wasn’t labored at all! Score.

And I found, too, that as I moved I was, in fact, and all fears to the contrary, warming up. I was even able to push down my hood and affix my Minnie ears properly.

After a quick stop for a couple photos, I blasted through the Magic Kingdom parking lot entrance, sliding to a stop in favor of a not-too-long line for Jack Skellington and Sally. This ultimately turned out to be probably my longest stop, as Jack and Sally took a brief break to warm up while I was in line, but it was well worth it. Jack greeted me with a hearty “You can run as fast as you can but you can’t outrun dysentery!” and sent me off with an encouraging “Let your fear fuel you!” Neither of which are from the movie, so I guess he’s just dispensing advice now?

I had unzipped my throwaway fleece so that my bib would be visible for the photo and found it none too bad. I decided to chuck it at this time and surprisingly never regretted it. (But that’s all I ever shed – once in awhile I would be warm and think, should I toss a layer? And then the wind would kick up like, NOPE.)

Before I knew it I was running down Main Street, into Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and around in Frontierland (at which point a lady asked me “What park is this?” which I found interesting…). I passed the Country Bears but the line was long-ish and I’d gotten them last year, so pass. Then it was through Liberty Square, where I only saw JJ but I understand Sam Eagle was out too? Sorry I missed that one.

Only Elsa was hanging out on the castle – I wonder why there’s no photo op with them? Not that I was too concerned – I was more into my photo op with the castle itself.

As we exited the Magic Kingdom I caught a photo with a steam train for my dad, who’s into trains, then stopped again for the Maleficent dragon float because the line wasn’t too long. Sadly the CMs did not fully capture my pose; it was so ballet-y a stiltwalker awarded me a “YES GIRL!” right behind my ear, which kept me smiling for at least two more miles.

Then it was around the monorail resort area and into a stretch of… roads. Which were mostly boring. I did catch photos at the Attraction Graveyard and with Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Vanelloppe Vannelloppe Sarah Silverman Baby Talk CGI Girl.

A few miles later and we were approaching the Animal Kingdom; obligatory Festival of the Lion King photo ensued, but there weren’t as any animals out as usual. I’ve seen a couple freak out on occasion; maybe that’s it?

One of my great strengths as a distance runner is the ability to disconnect my brain from my feet. If I can find the right daydream I can run minutes or even miles at a time without noticing. This only presents a problem at times when it comes to photos in races. I’ll think, ooh, I should take a picture of that! But my feet are like, sorry, we already passed it.

I mention this phenomenon because I felt it most keenly here: as we approached the Thirsty River Bar just before Everest, I saw a CM holding up a handwritten sign reading THE BAR IS OPEN! And at 8:32am (I looked), 13.1 miles into a marathon which, to be clear, is only halfway done, people were stopping off to buy a beer. I did not buy one myself but I love that others did and am still kicking myself for not doubling back for a quick picture. Oh well. Next time.

All of which is to say that I came upon Expedition Everest at 8:32am. Good news: ahead of last year’s time! Bad news: no way was I gonna wait up to 28 minutes to ride. I kept running.

With the exception of the long line of cheering spectators, exiting DAK is one of my least favorite parts of this course – because I know that it will be miles before I reach my next “park,” and when I do it will be the ESPN Zone Wide World of Sports. Cue Haunted Mansion gravediggers.

Although I must say WWoS was not as much of a marathon purgatory as I felt it was last year. Maybe because we hit it around mile 20 instead of 17 and therefore the wall was behind me?

Whatever the reason, I breezed through the area and exited feeling strong. I knew all (all! Ha) I had to do was make it up the Green Army Man hill and then I was on the road to the Studios. Oswald says ‘sup.

Mind you, the Studios were a total drive-by this year; given the construction we basically entered, ran down the main drag, and exited the park. Which is a little sad because I found the spectator support to be excellent there last year, but no matter because we were about to hit the most spectative area of all… the Boardwalk!

The Boardwalk is invariably filled with tons of tons of enthusiastic crowds, at least one of whom usually provides me with Swedish Fish (thanks, random dude!). It’s the perfect segue into the final leg as you enter the World Showcase.

Note: I entered the World Showcase at 10:30am, approximately 30 minutes ahead of last year give or take corral difference and what have you. This is great. BUT. The WS characters are mostly not out until WS opens at 11am, so, lame. I did see Aladdin but that’s it.

Of course by then it was almost over – and I felt great. In fact I was able to pick up the pace a little as I charged for the finish line.

Here’s the real kicker. My official time was 5:08.22. My GPS watch numbers got a little bungled – a couple times I stopped the clock for a photo line and forgot to start it up again for a minute; a couple times I forgot to stop the clock in the photo line and all that time got recorded. It shook out at 4:58. I stopped for the bathroom twice and at least 12 photos… if I hadn’t my time may have been as low as, oh, 4:55 or so?


In the immortal words of Charlie Brown: AUGH.

I’ll be doing a post breaking down my last MCM vs. this race later on, as I believe many factors and decisions affected the outcome. But man, I wish those performances had been swapped.

Oh well! I still had a great time – even the temperature couldn’t get me down. The WDW Marathon is my favorite of every race I’ve ever run and I hope I can do it again next year!

But it better be warmer.

Next up: more WDW antics!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/07

It’s trip report time again! I love trip reports! I’m recapping my January 2017 trip to WDW for the marathon. Onward!

My morning began with my dad waking me up five minutes before my alarm was even set to go off, but I can’t really complain seeing as how he was giving me a ride to the airport. (Always encourage your parents to live near the airport.)

Airport portion of the story was surprisingly uneventful, given the weather patterns circling around at the time. We boarded a little late as we were waiting on the requisite number of flight attendants, but that’s all. There was definitely some turbulence during the flight, but we had a very calm and reassuring captain, and only landed about 20 minutes late. All and all not bad considering the snow predicted up north and the storms down south!

It occurred to me, like, the DAY before I left that I never received formal Magical Express tickets in the mail – possibly because I had declined an additional Magic Band? Anyway, I figured it was fine since they only scan your band anyway, and I was right. The DME bus was unusually crowded, but as that meant we got going a little quicker I had no problem with it.

Pop was the second stop, and as my room was predictably not ready – it was a little before 10am when I got there- I went straight to the handicap bathroom, complete with sink and mirror, to freshen up (this is one of my favorite hacks, but always do a quick scan for people in the area who may need it before taking this stall and be mindful of your time).

In an unexpected turn of events, I got a text that my room was ready just as I was finishing up. I figured it would be faster to drop off my stuff in my room than brave the potential line for bag check, so I headed over to my “pool view” (BARELY; luckily I don’t care but they were really stretching it) room to dump my bag. I always request the ’60s since those rooms are closest to the main hall, but this room was a good location too, just off the path.

Plot point for later: the TV was on when I arrived. I turned it off before leaving.

I headed out, noting all the half marathon runners getting their miles in around Hourglass Lake, official race cancellation or no. Good for you guys!

Less good for all of us: the expo bus line. Disney was requiring half marathoners to come back to the expo if they wanted to transfer to the marathon or needed their alternate item (tickets, gift cards) immediately. That made for a crazy bus line and an even crazier expo.

Picking up my bib wasn’t a problem since I was already signed up for just the marathon, but the vendor area was nuts. I eased into the official race merchandise area and looked at a couple things, but it was just too crowded; trying to get your hands on anything involved a lot of waiting and darting. It took about five minutes for me to get tired of that, and I headed out empty handed.

My plan was to head to the Animal Kingdom via Uber, which I deemed to be the fastest method. BUT: snag. The traffic to get into the ESPN Wide World of Sports was seriously prohibitive. I deemed it very likely that, unless an Uber driver was already on site, it would be faster just to go via Disney bus. I brought the app and the closest car was 16 minutes away; who knows if that estimate involved parking traffic.

Instead I picked up a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge, hoping there’d be a DAK bus waiting for me, and: tada! There was!

I was making good time, except I realized that I had misremembered my safari FastPass time and had overshot anyway. I changed it an available slot in late afternoon, but as the My Disney Experience app was showing a 10 minute wait time anyway, I decided to make it my first stop.

Unfortunately by the time I got through security and the tapstyles (annual passholder lines FTW!) the time had shot up to 20 minutes, which isn’t too terrible but that kind of increase that quick often bodes ill for actual wait time. I decided to skip it for now in favor of my Dinosaur FP.

I am proud to say that I no longer need to shut my eyes, squint, or look away from the carnotaurus at ALL during this ride, even when placed in an outside seat. (It’s hard to be brave when you’re such a small animal. – Piglet) I know this is not the popular opinion but I personally prefer Dinosaur to its Disneyland counterpart, Indiana Jones. Improvements from the refurb I noticed: it’s darker, right? More lightning? There wasn’t fog before, was there? What am I missing?

There was a father/son duo in the row next to me. DAD: Did you like it? SON: No. I always said this ride seems rather intense for little kids…

Next I headed over to Everest ahead of FP schedule hoping to score a speedy single rider experience, and I was rewarded with a basically nonexistent single rider line. I enjoyed a jaunt on what is possibly my very favorite ride on property (DAT BACKWARDS BIT DOE).

I pulled up the MDE app to consider my next move and saw that the safari was back down to a ten minute wait, so I scuttled on over. Indeed, at this point there was pretty much no line at all, which was great. The sad bit was that I wound up on the right side of the car, and I really think the right side gets the shaft; all the best views tend to show up on the left. The driver was also lackluster, speaking with a rote style that suggested he was reading directly off the script, but I’ll take that over WAY! TOO! PERKY! any day.

It was still a fun go-round, with lots of animals active in the comparative cool of a rainy day. Question: as parents, how do you handle wildebeests mating in front of you in a theme park?

I knew I needed to eat something soon, what with running a marathon in the morning, and all, but I wasn’t at all sure what I wanted. I perused the Yak & Yeti menu but nothing quite caught me. I wound up in Pizzafari because the seating area is inside and I was cold (yes, cold in FL – just wait until we get to the race recap, kids). I got a Mediterranean flatbread that actually wasn’t that bad, all things considered. Unremarkable but one helluva step up from the pizzas they used to crank out.

Post-lunch, I sat at my table a moment and took stock. I wasn’t enjoying myself like I usually do, especially in my favorite park. Was WDW starting to lose its luster for me? PSH. Nonsense. The problem was the temperature: I was cold. I HATE being cold.

Very well; I would step back, reassess, and make adjustments. First up: I swapped out my afternoon safari FP for a Nemo FP, which is lengthily indoors. Then I decided, despite the lack of FPs, to take in my FAVORITE show, Festival of the Lion King.

But first I used my Everest FP, because some things are sacred and not to be touched by such paltry things as the chill.

Back to FotLK. I’m very particular about my positioning during this show – the lion section for preference, the end of the row definitely. For the most part show FPs are, as far as I can tell, largely useless, but they do give you a slight edge if you have a particular spot in mind. Despite my lack, I lucked into a GREAT seat, in the giraffe section but almost right on the stage floor with no obstructions. Thanks, random family, for not sliding quite all the way down and leaving an opening for me!

I had some time to kill before Nemo, so I wandered over to Dinoland and accepted a 20 minute standby wait time for Primeval Whirl because what the hell. It’s a cute, fun little ride.

From there it was a short walk to the Theater in the Wild, and the small FP advantage won me my favorite seat there – not that I really think anyone else would want it! I like to sit waaay over to the far right, front row, back section. The bench there is really short and one or two or three smallish people can have the whole thing to themselves and then scoot right out the door at the end of the show ahead of the crowd.

While it does make for a sliiightly obstructed view during some scenes, it also affords you some backstage views. When performers are coming to come onto the promenade section, the curtain next to you is pulled back and you can sometimes catch a glimpse ahead of time.

By the time the show ended sunset was upon us. One of my goals for the trip was to ride Everest in the dark, and as it’s basically next to the theater I headed there next – only to find it down. Blast.

Somewhere in there I grabbed a cup of tea from Starbucks – a fools game, I know, but I was still leading a crusade against cold.

I consulted MDE and saw that Dinosaur had a 10 minute wait, so I headed over. Unfortunately so did everyone else on earth, as far as I can gather, as the actual wait quickly proved to be much longer. A second consult of MDE about 20 minutes later showed Everest was back up, so I bailed…

Only to find that the single rider line was closed, and the FP line was a million years long since people from multiple time slots were there to make up their FPs. Nevertheless, I was bound and determined to make that nighttime Everest ride happen, so I hopped in line.

Verdict: totally worth it, just as I remembered. The darkness intensifies the entire experience, especially the final tunnel with the yeti.

The park was closed by this point; as I headed out I saw the new Tree of Life projection show was playing, but I was already about an hour behind schedule for race prep so I head to keep walking. Next time! Lucky for me a bus for Pop was waiting for me, plus other runners were on it so I felt better. If they weren’t panicking, I didn’t need to either.

I grabbed a pasta kids meal and a Powerade from the food court and headed back to my room, where, once again, the TV was broken. Maintenance came by and fixed it – possibly even the same woman as last time – but it seems weird that the issue would recur. Oh well. No big deal, but there’s something so nice about watching TV in a hotel room, y’know?

I found a Say Yes to the Dress marathon on TLC, which I am powerless to resist because I am a card-carrying girly-girl sometimes. I watched that while eating and prepping for my race. I set eighteen thousand alarms plus a wake up call, had my traditional pre-race mini panic attack about waking up in time, and then went to sleep.

Next up: the WDW Marathon!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Westworld Is Not Walt Disney World… Mostly

You’re familiar with “Westworld,” right? The new HBO show more so that the movie, featuring a future theme park characterized by audio-animatronics that are indistinguishable from real humans, leaping handily over the uncanny valley until you shoot them in the head and they actually die. The bullets won’t kill real people.

Which leads me to one thing that drives me nuts about the show. Here is a world built beautifully to true life, except of course that it is far more interesting and exciting than real life. It portrays the past as a living movie, full of characters with narratives – in which you can participate! The ultimate video game! Follow and interact with any character, cultivate adventure and romance. Be whoever you like. Do whatever you like.

And apparently 93% of the customers, presented with the infinite possibility of stories upon stories, would like to SHOOT PEOPLE IN THE FACE.

Honestly. I mean, I’m not against violence when it is either essential to the plot or [loosely tied to the plot but] gratuitously ridiculous – think the lobby shootout in The Matrix – but these trigger-happy whack jobs are completely missing the point of the park. Guest characters shoot people for fun, often at random, regardless of plot or what other interactions are going on around them. This is not what Delos is for. Delos is for trying on another life. It is for story play. I want to shout in anger: STOP KILLING HOSTS AT RANDOM! YOU’RE RUINING THE NARRATIVE! IF YOU WANT TO KILL PEOPLE DO IT WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF A STORY, DAMMIT!

I don’t know. Maybe I’m the one missing the point. I’m only partially through the series, and I’m sure what the show is trying to convey is something like, I don’t know, beware of relying too much on AI or be careful of revealing your true self or  or stop fantasizing so much or something. But my primary takeaway has been this: I wanna go play inside a big story world full of characters and connecting plot threads! I’d do a much better job taking advantage of Westworld’s offerings than these… these… these Grand Theft Auto enthusiasts.

Anyway. Believe it or not, this is actually not the main thrust of my post. I was moved to write because I have found a parallel to Walt Disney World.

I’m talking shooting up audio-animatronics.

No! No. I am not talking that. Clearly. WDW is not Delos by a long shot. But there is a moment in the second episode of “Westworld” where Anthony Hopkins’ character explains to a Westworld story writer why his plot is being rejected. In it, I begin to find a kernel of why us WDW enthusiasts love it so:

“They come back because of the subtleties. The details. They come back because they discover something they imagine no one ever noticed before.”

We love WDW for reasons that are personal. But sometimes they aren’t always explicable. Certainly it would be hard if not impossible to fully encapsulate that love in words. But I think there’s the beginnings of it in that.

One question, though: why would you ever want to one-up Hieronymus Bosch?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!